Dog breath. It’s certainly not one of the world’s most cherished smells, but when things go from “meh” to “eww,” what’s a concerned pet parent to do?
If your best friend is suffering from a case of yuck mouth (we’re pretty sure that’s the technical term), not to worry. We’ll walk you through the common causes of bad dog breath and give you the information you need to clear it up quickly.
Which Dogs Need Dental Care the Most?
- Smaller dog breeds and flat-faced dogs like pugs, Boston terriers, and boxers are more likely to suffer from dental disease, due to a smaller and more crowded mouth.
- Older dogs with little to no previous cleaning regimen can get a case of “stank face” seemingly out of the blue.
- Puppies need to be trained early for home brushing to become an easy habit.
Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs
When canine halitosis strikes, check for these common signs.
- In the mouth: broken teeth, tartar buildup, sore red gums
- Around the face: beard funk (Schnauzers, I’m looking at you)
If you don’t see any of the above, it’s probably not a dental issue. Nasty breath that isn’t caused by periodontal problems could be the sign of a bronchial, throat, or sinus infection. A visit to the vet can get your dog the necessary diagnosis.
Lastly, in an otherwise healthy dog, yucky habits like coprophagia, snacking from the cat litter box, licking anal glands, and eating questionable items (garbage, anyone?) can lead to temporary bad breath. See below for tips on doggy “breath mints” for occasional, non health-related death breath.
Treatment and Prevention
- An annual professional cleaning for your dog’s teeth
- Regular brushing at home with a toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste
- Dental chew treats from your vet, dentist, or local pet store (look for the VOHC—Veterinary Oral Health Council—logo)
- Hard chew toys or raw meaty bones keep tartar at bay and exercise the gums.
- Crunchy snacks can also keep teeth squeaky clean. Try raw sweet potato, carrot, apples (no seeds), or a even small pumpkin.
- Change water frequently and scrub your dog bowls, especially for those heavy droolers. (Eww, backwash.)
- Dog mouthwash, aka breath-freshening drinking water additives
- Fresh mint or parsley sprinkled on food or added to your favorite dog cookie recipe
- Charcoal-laced dog cookies claim to clean up halitosis and flatulence—a twofer!